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Illuminandi - In via 4/5

Reviewed: 2-1-11


1. Intro
2. The promise
3. Poczekalnia
4. Cela
5. Wejdź
6. Interludium
7. Reborn
8. Illumina tenebras meas
9. W drodze
10. I o tym drugim...
11. A blessing
12. Outro

Illuminandi is a folksy metal band from Poland and this is their debut studio CD. Their songs are generally a nice mixture of dramatic gothic/doom metal and lightly complex but catchy melodic death metal, with pervasive folksy violin and cello. The gothic/doom passages are especially heavy and crunchy, and usually feature warm, heroic clean male vocals. The arrangements are similar to Draconian but not so relentlessly dark; rather, they have a solemn, majestic feel with a brooding sense of triumph and victory. The melodic death metal passages are usually suffused with the folksy strings and remind me of Orphaned Land, especially their earlier CDs where the death metal elements were much more prominent. There are extended heavy rocking instrumental passages, again often suffused with the folksy strings, especially on the 2nd half of the CD. There are touches of classic metal here and there as well.

The clean male vocals are really something special. They are unusually deep, rich and expressive with a warm classical baritone operatic delivery that is, unfortunately, quite unusual in metal. The only other bands I know that employ this vocal style regularly are the Russian pagan metal bands Butterfly Temple and Tverd, and the German gothic/black metal band Enid. This is a very dramatic and engaging vocal style that adds majesty and grandeur to the arrangements. This is especially appropriate given the subject matter of the lyrics: they are a mixture of passages from the Bible and very intelligent, introspective Christian-themed reflections on life and its troubles and triumphs. Although some of the lyrics are in Polish they are translated into English in the liner notes. The melodic death metal passages feature deep pleasant death vocals which make an nice counter-point to the clean ones.

This is a very diverse and mature effort for a debut CD, and this is partly explained by the fact that Illuminandi have been around for nearly 10 years, with 2 demos, an EP and a live CD. Their deft combination of gothic, doom and death metal with such festive folksy passages is quite an ambitious undertaking; it’s amazing how effectively the CD flows from one style to the next while maintaining very accessible and memorable song structures. ‘In via’ is highly recommended to fans of ambitious folk metal.




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